I have always wondered why USCIS is still so heavily relying on their paper-based payment system. It is error-prone, it is slow, and it wastes valuable resources to process thousands of checks and money orders every day. For a customer, a rejected check could be devastating for time sensitive applications. Sure, they ought to be more careful, but an electronic payment system would be able to catch an error in a few days, if not minutes, as compared to weeks for a check to bounce back.
CIS Ombudsman published a report to address this exact issue today:
At the Chicago Lockbox, USCIS rejects an estimated 350 filings each day due to these mistakes, and similar rejections regularly occur at other USCIS receipting facilities. Such rejections cause customers potential denial or loss of immigration benefits, and waste USCIS resources.
His recommendations sound fairly manageable in this digital age:
- A batch filing system that would enable high volume filers to pay USCIS fees online;
- An online shopping cart mechanism that would simplify the process of identifying appropriate USCIS forms, calculating related fees, and submitting payments;
- An expansion of the payment options within the e-Filing system to include all USCIS fees; and,
- Additional visual and written aids within current instructions to ensure that payments are submitted correctly.
Out of hundreds of USCIS forms, only eight are currently eligible for e-filing, thus electronic payment:
- Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card)
- Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)
- Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document)
- Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker)
- Form I-539 (Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status)
- Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
- Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status)
- Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service)
We hope that USCIS will be able to expand the e-filing system to cover more immigration petitions in the near future, or at least provide e-payment service as a first step, since it benefits not only the agency, but employers and immigrants also.